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Transcripts of James K. Polk’s Final Correspondence Now Online

Letters from the final year of James K. Polk’s presidency are now available online. UT Libraries staff designed the website for the XML-encoded transcriptions.

With online publication of this last portion of Polk’s correspondence, UT’s James K. Polk Project nears completion. The James K. Polk Project, based in UT’s Department of History, spent decades locating and publishing all extant letters written by or to the United States’ eleventh president (1845-1849).

Correspondence of James K. Polk: Transcriptions, April 1848–June 1849 includes 364 letters from Polk’s final year as president and his brief retirement. Many of these cover the aftermath of the Mexican War, with Polk pressing Congress to create state or territorial governments for the Western lands acquired from Mexico. Others discuss the presidential campaign of 1848, in which Zachary Taylor won election as the first president with no prior political experience. Still others address the European revolutions of 1848–1849, conflicts between whites and Indians in Oregon, and the California gold rush. Many concern African Americans’ enslavement in the South, in the West, in Cuba, and on Polk’s own plantation in Mississippi.

The Polk project has performed an immense service to historians by collecting, transcribing, and publishing virtually the entire correspondence of President Polk. Thirteen volumes of the Correspondence, covering 1817 through March 1848, are already available as hardcover editions from UT Press. The earlier volumes are also freely available as PDFs through Newfound Press, the UT Libraries’ online imprint. The edited volumes include annotations that provide historical context for the letters.

A hardcover edition of Volume 14 (April 1848-June 1849) will be available for purchase from UT Press in the not-too-distant future. This final volume will also include a calendar summarizing letters from earlier periods that were located too late to be published in the chronologically appropriate volumes of the Correspondence.

Mango language learning tool now available

The UT Libraries now subscribes to Mango Languages, which offers online language learning through conversations and films. Language courses are accessible from a web browser or an app.

Mango Languages features:

UT users can link to Mango through the Libraries’ Articles & Databases link (see Modern Foreign Languages & Literatures).

First-time users must create a user profile to use Mango. Choose “sign up” and then choose a language to get to the profile set-up area. A user profile allows you to keep track of your progress and test results.

For more information, contact Allison Sharp, the librarian for Modern Foreign Languages and Literatures as well as the Center for International Education (asharp9@nullutk.edu).

Library will drop Rosetta Stone, switch to Mango language learning tool

The UT Libraries is adopting Mango as the online language learning tool for campus users. Mango Languages (mangolanguages.com) is an interactive learning tool that allows users to learn at their leisure. Mango teaches the basics of conversation in more than 70 languages.

The Libraries’ subscription to Rosetta Stone will expire on Friday, May 10.

Last year, during a trial subscription to the Mango database, the Libraries gathered feedback from users of the online language courses. Users expressed a preference for the Mango platform.

Mango Languages will soon be available through the Libraries’ Articles & Databases link (see Modern Foreign Languages & Literatures). Watch for an announcement.

For a brief period, neither language learning platform will be available. During the switchover, language learners may visit Transparent Language Online, a database made available through the Tennessee Electronic Library. Click SIGN UP to create a new account.

For more information, contact Allison Sharp, the librarian for Modern Foreign Languages and Literatures as well as the Center for International Education (asharp9@nullutk.edu).

Lactation Room Now Open in Hodges Library

The UT Libraries is pleased to announce a new lactation room in Hodges Library. Room 255B (behind Starbucks) provides a private and comfortably furnished space for feeding infants or expressing milk. The lactation room is open to all UT Knoxville visitors, students, staff, and faculty and is available all hours the library is open.

Location
• Hodges Library Room 255B
• Second floor, behind Starbucks

Access
• Available on a first-come, first-served basis
• Door remains unlocked, unless in use
• Door locks from inside
• Sign on the door to note whether the room is in use or available

Features
• Sink, soap and paper towels
• Countertop space
• Nursing pillow
• Dimmable/adjustable lighting
• White noise machine
• Rocking chair with armrests
• Artwork to create an inviting space

SGA Makes Awards to Faculty Who Use Open Resources

The Student Government Association (SGA) held an awards ceremony in Hodges Library on April 25 to recognize UT instructors who use open educational resources (OER) in their courses. Winners of the SGA Open Education Award were selected from instructors nominated by their students.

Winning instructors were Alex Bentley from the Department of Anthropology; Donna Bueckman, Economics; and Kenneth Kihm, Mechanical, Aerospace and Biomedical Engineering.

Why do open educational resources matter? Open textbooks — one type of open educational resource — can be read online for free, potentially saving each student hundreds of dollars. The university’s Open Textbook Working Group estimates that open textbooks saved UT students a total of $816,600 over the 2018-2019 academic year.

When nominating their instructors for the SGA award, grateful students noted those costs savings. One student told the awards committee, “Because I was able to have access to this book for free, I am able to take my education further. I now have the funds I saved by not having to buy a book to use toward other aspects of my education. This also lightens my load of worry, which helps me to concentrate and learn.”

Donna Bueckman’s sections of ECON 201 reached 918 students this year, so her adoption of an open textbook translates to student savings of $91,800. 

In addition to being free, openly licensed textbooks can be customized by local faculty to better fit the content and goals of their own courses.

Alex Bentley taught a graduate-level Anthropology course on big data and used a variety of open data repositories, introduced a number of open source software programs, and adopted an open textbook to help his students learn the programming language R. One of Bentley’s students reported on the success of his teaching method: “Most students in our class had limited coding knowledge; however these open access resources helped us to overcome this issue and master programming in R . . . As a result of this terrific class I presented a short paper in a conference.”

Kenneth Kihm was one of several faculty members who received a UT Open Textbook/OER Grant last year to adopt and customize an openly-licensed textbook. One of the students in his Aerospace Engineering 351 class was enthusiastic about the result: “The practice of using open textbooks should be implemented much more often.”

Also honored at the awards celebration was Barbara Murphy of the School of Music. Murphy received the UT Libraries’ Trailblazer Award for creating an online resource for Music Theory Materials with grant funding from the Division of Student Life and support from the UT Libraries and the Office of Information Technology.

Other instructors nominated for the SGA Open Education Award were: Stan Guffey, Biology; Brian Edwards, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering; Mark Tabone, English; Margie Abdelrazek, Marianne Breinig, and Jian Liu, Physics; and Jeff Larsen and Elliott Spengler, Psychology.

Read more about open textbooks.

New “Vlog” on Preserving Books and Other Treasures

In her new vlog, Get to the Point in Library Preservation, preservation technician Amanda Richards demonstrates the tools and techniques she uses to make sure the UT Libraries collections will stand the test of time. Amanda offers step-by-step tutorials on techniques — such as sew-ins, book binding, and constructing boxes to house fragile materials — that she uses to treat circulating books as well as the rare and unique items in our Betsey B. Creekmore Special Collections and University Archives.

Preservation Week: Learn how the library preserves its treasures

April 22-26 is Preservation Week at the libraries. Stop by 209 Hodges Library, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. each day, to learn how the library preserves its treasures.

  • Monday: Bind your own notebook
  • Tuesday: Learn to preserve your personal treasures
  • Wednesday: Demonstrations by Bob Roberts of Gilded Leaf Bookbinding and Restoration
  • Thursday: Watch the UT Libraries’ Preservation Lab make recoveries
    • Repairs and when to get professional help
  • Friday: Watch the UT Libraries’ Preservation Lab make recoveries
    • Recoveries from floods, fires, and poor storage

Read more about what the Preservation Lab does.

New “Vlog” on Preserving Books and Other Treasures

In her new vlog, Get to the Point in Library Preservation, preservation technician Amanda Richards demonstrates the tools and techniques she uses to make sure the UT Libraries collections will stand the test of time. Amanda offers step-by-step tutorials on techniques — such as sew-ins, book binding, and constructing boxes to house fragile materials — that she uses to treat circulating books as well as the rare and unique items in our Betsey B. Creekmore Special Collections and University Archives.

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